Glass Art Sculpture of Legendary General Guan-Yu Studying. Guan Gong, also known as Guan Yu or Guan Yun Chang was a general who lived close to two thousand years ago in China. He helped his sworn brother Liu Bei to fight against the dynasty of Wei that seized the throne from the last Han-Emperor. He was also the sworn brother of Zhang Fei, another warrior of Liu Bei's.
The Three Brothers conquered the Southeast of China and founded a Dynasty named Shu Han (because Liu Bei claimed to be the rightful heir of the Han Dynasty). They also battled with Eastern Wu, another Chinese dynasty at this time, and during one of the battles, Guan Yu was captured by the Wu general Lü Meng and executed (along with his son Guan Ping).
After his death, General Guan Yu became the embodiment of loyalty, righteous, bravery and benevolence. Guan Yu’s brotherhood pact with Liu Bei and Zhang Fei provides strong imagery and symbolism for friends to look after each other in times of hardship. This idea offered motivation and role model for Chinese migrants when they arrive in their host society.
His popularity and the respect he commanded are reflected by the list of posthumous honors bestowed on him by subsequent emperors. During the Ming dynasty, Wu Cheng En wrote the novel San Guo Yan Xi (三国演义), Romance of the three Kingdoms, using the Three Kingdoms period as a backdrop and immortalized Guan Yu and his sworn brothers.
The Taoist worshiped Guan Yu as the god of literature, god of war and Martial God of Wealth and is referred to as Guan Gong (关公), Guan Di (關帝) and as a sign of respect. There are also spirit mediums or Tangkis who can manifest the spirit of Guan Yu.